The morning came much too early.
Xavier had completely forgotten about her escape through her bedroom/basement window, and now that the snow was no longer blocking it, a glare of
orange morning sunlight was free to shine into her room, illuminating it in an almost blinding way.
When Xavier finally blinked herself awake, she found it rather odd that nobody was hammering on her door, ordering her to get up and do her chores.
And, stranger still that the whole basement was flooded with sunlight. This day seemed to start very differently than most, but Xavier didn't mind one
An entire weekend without Dad or Carlos,
she thought, standing upright and rifling through her clothes hamper. I don't know why I had a
problem with it... sounds like paradise!
Arkus appeared in her mind again, but she shook the thought away and dumped the hamper onto the floor, revealing a few of her outfits which she hadn't
worn in ages. One outfit in particular stuck out to her; a black and white, long sleeved, tightly-fit corset-like top, one with the two colors mashing
together like a beautiful swirl of watercolors. The shirt fit her perfectly, but she usually never wore it.
Smiling, Xavier picked it up and draped it over her body. It stuck to her stomach, chest, and back exactly how she remembered, and looked positively
feminine, and even pretty. It wasn't the look she'd usually go for, but with her father and Carlos both gone, she found herself entranced with an
unusual feeling of eagerness and happiness, and strangely enough, she wanted
to look her best today. It was a beautiful Friday after all, and
she'd have to welcome all the convention goers who'd show up today, party on Saturday, and stay for Christmas Sunday.
After slipping into some black skinny jeans, Xavier left her room and made her way to the diner. It was about halfway full of families eating
breakfast, and outside of the enormous windows was--not only a gorgeous glare of sunlight--but a fresh flurry of snowflakes falling to the world
below. Xavier suspected that Mars had never seen such a beautiful winter before.
Since everything seemed to be in order... as far as she could tell, anyway, as her father hadn't left her any real instructions regarding how to keep
the lodge running... Xavier headed into the bathroom. She reached into her satchel, and pulled out a few articles of make-up and a hat.
Last Christmas, she'd found the hat left in one of the hotel rooms. Someone had forgotten it, and Xavier, figuring she may eventually have a use for
it, claimed it.
After giving herself a thin layer of black-and-silver make-up, along with black mascara, she placed the Santa hat atop her head, her short, shining
crimson hair reaching out from under it, lying on her neck and bordering her face. Examining herself in the mirror--even the scar on her face--she was
absolutely pleased with her appearance today.
When she reached the lobby, Xavier was surprised to see that it was already packed with people; families with suitcases and backpacks, and quite a lot
of children were standing in line at the front desk.
The man behind the front desk was attempting to handle everything by himself, and the spot beside him was empty.
"Need help?" Xavier offered, stepping behind the desk and powering on the second computer terminal. "I can get someone over here!"
Some of the conventioners from the line broke into a second line, forming behind Xavier. After grasping a vague idea as to how to enter guest
information, Xavier greeted every family happily and punched their information into the computer. Twenty minutes passed by, and the crowd had finally
died down. Xavier gave the lobby man a salute, then strolled off to check on the rest of the lodge... and, all the while, she barely realized that she
was in a powerfully unusual good mood.
"Miss!" Someone yelled when she was halfway down the hall.
Xavier turned to see old Nicholas, the host of the convention.
"Sorry to bother ya' miss... oh! You're wearing a Santa hat. You're in the spirit now, ain't ya'!" He said, approaching her.
"Yep." Xavier agreed, grinning.
"Er... where's your father?" He asked.
"Away for the weekend. I'm in charge, apparently."
"Yeah... weird, right?"
"Oh no, its not that... but, er... I was wondering if you could spare an extra employee to help me decorate. I have my two grandkids hanging up lights
and whatnot, but I'm afraid we won't get it done on time if we don't have an extra person--"
"I'll do it." Xavier told him.
"Will you?" Nicholas said, trying not to sound surprised. "Well... God bless ya' sweetheart!"
And so, Xavier followed Nicholas to his stash of decorations just outside of the lodge. They unloaded the boxes, and Nicholas kindly suggested where
and how the lights ought to be hung. They spend the next hour or so carrying around two large ladders and stringing up the lights, both inside and
outside of the lodge, and at some point, Nicholas had rigged a soundtrack of Christmas music onto the loudspeakers somehow.
Once Xavier had exhausted her supply of lights, Nicholas gave her a thumbs up, and she replied with a simple wave and marched away. It was eleven in
the morning now, and Xavier couldn't exactly figure out what to do next.
She thought. There's going to be a lot of people here, and I bet Nicholas ordered a lot of food. The chefs probably need
Xavier made her way through the diner and entered the kitchen, where, as she predicted, the chefs were scrambling to cook a lot of things at once.
Many gigantic plates of food were assorted along the free counters, and the chefs were moving from one spot to another, weaving around each other and
trying not to knock anything over.
"You guys need help?" Xavier asked loudly, trying to speak over the many noises in the place.
A few of them looked her way, seeming to recognize her as the lodge owner's daughter.
"You wanna help? Help us cook?" The head chef asked, balancing a monstrous plate containing a whole turkey and a large pitcher of tea.
"Er--right, um--ah! In the back--in the freezer--could you grab us a couple of hams? I've got everyone busy here..." The chef asked, and Xavier nodded
Cautiously, she traveled through the kitchen, dodging the people, pots, pans, and preparations taking up most of the space. When she finally reached
the other side of the kitchen, she realized that the freezer was in an entirely different room.
Xavier opened the door and stepped into a large, dark room, and just ahead of her was a massive, vault-like door.
That's the biggest damn freezer I've ever seen in my life,
Xavier thought, approaching it and placing her hand on the handle.
She pulled the giant metal door open with considerable effort and stepped inside.
It looked like a wonderland of frozen foods; like a rich man's bedroom, frozen over entirely and dedicated to the storing of foods and nothing else.
It was astronomically enormous on the inside, and, as she ventured deeper into it, Xavier realized that there was no handle on the inside of the
This would be a good place to trap someone if you wanted somebody to freeze to death,
She figured. There's no way to open the door from the
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